In February of 1997, we were finally ready to build our wood-fried oven. I had discovered an expert on a trip to Maine to support our wine sales there.
Several fine restaurants (in Portland & Rockland) offered exciting menus prepared in their wood-fired ovens. All these ovens were built by Patrick Manley who lives in rural Washington, Maine amongst the birch forest. Plans were made and we flew Patrick out to add a most significant feature to Fitzpatrick Winery & Lodge.
The weather was very cooperative last year and with all hands on deck, supporting Patrick's lead, we built the oven in 14 days. Our lifestyle has changed forever since we incorporated our wood-fired oven into our bread baking and catering services.
Things take a little longer but it feels good, smells good and tastes great. The way life should be! Wood, wine and fresh-baked bread. I know many of you have admired this oven and would love to have a wood-fired oven too.
So, I thought I'd share with you a step by step (minus a few here and there) pictorial of wood-fire oven construction with the master, Patrick Manley. Don't be deceived with the Southwest looking facade. This is a European bread oven enclosed and highly insulated to hold oven temperature for many hours.
We surrounded the thermal mass of the oven with 3" of foam glass underneath and vermiculite all around the sides and the roof. I can fire up the oven the night before and bake without a fire the next morning. If I super saturate the thermal mass of this oven with the heat of several fires Friday and Saturday, I can baked bread without any additional fire all day Sunday and bake the family dinner Monday evening (almost 48 hours later). As you can see, this oven wasn't cheap and rightfully so. This oven is a gift to this generation and many to come.